UAE’s Price Comparison Site Souqalmal Raises $10 Million in Funding

Published October 3rd, 2017 - 12:19 GMT
The funding round included Saudi-based TAQNIA Fund, UAE Exchange and UK comparison site GoCompare. (Courtesy of Souqalmal)
The funding round included Saudi-based TAQNIA Fund, UAE Exchange and UK comparison site GoCompare. (Courtesy of Souqalmal)

UAE-based comparison site Souqalmal.com has raised $10 million in a new funding round.

The round was led by Saudi-based TAQNIA Fund and saw participation from UAE Exchange Group and UK comparison site GoCompare in its first international investment.

Souqalmal said it would use the proceeds to launch new business lines including for health, travel and home insurance, as well as develop its technology platform and invest in marketing.

The company currently offers comparisons of 3,200 banking, insurance and education products in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The website plans to officially launch its car insurance comparison platform in Saudi Arabia through a broker in the next few months after launching the category in the UAE in June last year and seeing 800 per cent growth.

CEO and founder Ambareen Musa said the company had seen revenue growth of 300 per cent annually since launching in 2012 and had cut its customer acquisition cost by 80 per cent.

Beyond Saudi Arabia the firm also plans to expand its presence in the wider Gulf region beginning with Bahrain, she told Gulf Business, but the company will do so gradually.

“The idea is to really become the MENA player but what we want to do is start with GCC player first and then actually go into North Africa,” she said.

The investment round follows a recent trend of international players investing in regional companies including US online shopping giant Amazon’s estimated $650m acquisition of Souq.com and China’s Didi Chuxing’s investment in Careem.

“Instead of trying to do it on their own they are starting to see the talent is there, the infrastructure is there and we’re attracting a lot of international players,” Musa added.

 

GoCompare chief strategy and investment officer Faisal Galaria said the company would seek to pass on its expertise in marketing, customer acquisition, relationships and technology to support Souqalmal to “become as dominant here as we are in UK”.

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“We look at the size of the opportunity here in the GCC market and clearly it’s a moment in time when the market is set to explode especially given what’s happening in Saudi Arabia so it seemed like an opportune moment for us to make our first international investment,” he said.

Souqalmal competes with Dubai-based comparison site compareit4me, which itself raised $3.5 million in a funding round in May led by STC Ventures and Wamda Capital

Musa said the market had consolidated from an initial seven players when the company first started to now only two, but the presence of other players was also important for educating consumers about aggregator sites.

“From an individual perspective, it’s who builds the best trust and the most branding and that’s more on the business side, but I think overarching with that it’s very important to have more than one player,” she said.

By Robert Anderson


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